Capital Punishment: California's Financial Burden And Legal Nightmare

1719 words - 7 pages

Capital Punishment in the state of California represents the ideals of justice in no way which can justify the great financial and legal burden required to maintain a system that has not actually put any person to death since 2006. It is somewhat of a mystery why California voters allow the process to continue despite having opportunities on fairly recent ballots to discontinue the practice. The current implementation of capital punishment in the state of California spends large amounts of money on the many legal proceedings and processes, while carrying out so few executions of death row prisoners that some would label California as a “De-facto prohibition” state regarding it's practices of capital punishment. Capital Punishment in California fails miserably to represent justice for anyone, and should be abolished.

Notwithstanding issues of morality, the death penalty process of California is financially inefficient and ineffective. At the current rate of executions, “it would take 1,600 years to execute everybody on death row.” [The Death of the American Death Penalty, 122] The average delay in implementing a death sentence calculates out to be 25 years, at an added cost of $90,000 per year over normal incarceration. [Guy, 2] This is a “premium that currently totals more than $60 million a year” [Guy, 2]. When you take the added costs of death row incarceration and total them up with the additional costs of prosecution and the handling of the many legal appeals death row inmates are entitled to, the unnecessary amount of spending is significant. We could eliminate “$126 million a year” in additional costs by simply sentencing death row inmates to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. [Guy, 2] Because of the aforementioned 25 year delay in executions, and the tendency for “[defendants to] die in prison before [they are] ever executed” [Guy 2], we really wouldn't be giving up much at all by simply eliminating capital punishment within our state. Because of the aforementioned facts, the authors of The Death of the American Death Penalty go so far as to list California as a state with “De Facto” abolition of capital punishment. The numbers can not lie, the current implementation of capital punishment in California spends large amounts of money to achieve almost nothing.

The primary causes of the long process of executing death row inmates are the consequences of the high number of appeals. According to a telephone call with a former California public defender, state law allows appeals to drag on for “decades”, providing an explanation for the 25 years average time it takes to execute a death row inmate. [The Death of the American Death Penalty , 122] For each trial, “jury selection can take four or five months, and the trail can last another six to seven months.” [The Death of the American Death Penalty , 122] In addition to these delays, things are further complicated because the law requires separate attorneys for the phase...

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